Today is Billy Frank Jr. Day, honoring the late environmental leader and Native American treaty rights activist. A member of the Nisqually tribe, his “fish-ins” helped lead to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that restored federally-recognized tribes the legal right to fish. He later chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for decades, and was honored with numerous awards – including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This week, four Ferndale High School groups – Mr. Smak i’ya’s Oksale (Lummi leadership) class, Mr. Moravec’s leadership class, Mr. Vicente’s MEChA Club and Ms. Caswell’s English class – teamed up to create a display honoring Frank Jr. Students cut one paper salmon for each FHS student – that’s about 1,300 individual salmon! – and wrote the name of every student on the paper. For students of Native American descent, their traditional tribal names were written, said Smak i’ya.
Not only does the display honor Frank Jr.’s commitment to preserving salmon in Washington, but it also showcases the many different cultures and backgrounds that FHS students originate from.
“One of Billy Frank Jr.’s goals was for people to set aside their differences and work together,” said Smak i’ya, who also teaches Lummi language at FHS.
The Oksale class also created a short informational video about Frank Jr., which was viewed by all FHS students during Eagle Time today. The video is at the bottom of this page.
For more information about Billy Frank Jr. and his legacy, here’s a detailed article from Washington-based regional history nonprofit HistoryLink: https://www.historylink.org/file/8929